Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Huge gaps among the deaf community - dentist

Published:Friday | December 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Nicole Robertson demonstrates sign language to the group attending the unveiling of the ground-breaking research, leading to the development of multimedia software, using Jamaica sign language and standard English to teach young deaf students at the Lister Mair Gilby School for the Deaf.

Dr Christopher Ogunsalu has been a dentist since1987, and when he attended to a deaf patient in St Andrew, Jamaica on Wednesday, it may well be the first time that he was doing so.

The Nigeria-born dentist who gave free dental services to 25 students at the Lister Mair Gilby School for the Deaf in Papine, St Andrew, said it was done in the true spirit of giving back during the Christmas season. However, he pointed to the need for more to be done for the deaf community.

"First of all, last week was the first time that I remember treating a deaf patient. I also called up a few of my colleagues and they too could not remember treating very often, or any at all, members of the disabled community," he said. "It is with this in mind that The International College of Dentists have adopted the school and will be taking care of the school's dental needs in ensuring that the school's population will be covered before May of next year.

The need is great and there are gaps that need to be filled in this community," he said.

He noted that it was a huge accomplishment to be able to give back, adding that there were encouraging signs from the event.

"We have examined and treated about 25 students and none of them that we examined and treated had missing teeth, and that's a very rare finding in a country like Jamaica," the dentist said.


Incidents of decay


"Most persons would have had an extraction by the time they are even 15 years old. Incidents of decay were also very low and only a few had small decay in the molar region (back). This is commendable and only goes to show that this community needs any support it can get," he said.

Carol Williams, a teacher at the school, expressed gratitude, indicating that the school community was grateful.

"There was a boy who was not on the list but he sat at the door determined to see the dentist because he knew this would be the only opportunity to get treatment. Persons just can't afford basic services," she declared.

"There was a young lady who was experiencing so much pain and sometimes it was so hard to get her settled in class because of the discomfort that she was experiencing, and finally she was treated free of cost and is now pain-free," Williams said.

"I have so much passion for these students, it can be challenging, but it pays off when you, invest in them."